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Right-wing media prompts Orange Beach schools to review library books

At least three of the books appear to have been challenged for LGBTQ themes or messages.

Orange Beach High School

Orange Beach City Schools is reviewing at least seven books in its combined middle school and high school library at the prompting of right-wing media site 1819 News.

Superintendent Randy Wilkes told APR that the media outlet, which has pushed challenges against public libraries in the state, “reached out and wanted to know if they can go through our libraries.”

Although Wilkes wasn’t there when the outlet came to review the books, he said they found what they were looking for with “relative ease.”

The seven books are now undergoing a review process apparently triggered by the site, which it then wrote about. The books challenged are:

  • “One Life” by Megan Rapinoe
  • “Tomboy” by Liz Prince
  • “Fangirl” by Rainbow Rowell
  • “Dare to Disappoint” by Ozge Samanci
  • “Just Like Mother” by Anne Heltzel
  • “Bad Girls of Fashion” by Jennifer Croll
  • “The Year I Stopped Trying” by Katie Heaney

At least three of the books have LGBTQ themes or messages.

“One Life” is the memoir of US Women’s Soccer star Megan Rapinoe, who has drawn the ire of many Conservatives as an outspoken openly gay athlete and for kneeling during the national anthem. It could not be clearly ascertained by APR whether the copy in OBCS is the standard version or the one specifically tailored for young readers. Rapinoe’s original memoir does contain some profanity, including the “f-word” from what APR could immediately see of the book.

“The Year I Stopped Trying” is a coming-out story, which 1819 News noted “describes masturbation and other sexual content.”

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“Tomboy” is a graphic memoir that deals with gender roles. According to some reviews, there is light profanity, but the book has been challenged in other states due to the LGBTQ content.

“Bad Girls of Fashion” looks back through history at how famous women used fashion to make a statement or change. It is not clear what objectionable content may be in the book—the sample reviewed by APR did not contain any profanity or sexual content.

“Just Like Mother” is considered by some to be one of the best horror books of 2022—for adults. It has numerous trigger warnings from rape to child abuse and is not aimed at young audiences.

“Fangirl” is the only book on this list that is catalogued by BookLooks, the site commonly referred to by book challengers created by a member of the group Moms for Liberty. It suggests the book is suitable for teen audiences, despite 45 uses of the “f-word” in addition to other profanity.

“Dare to Disappoint: Growing up in Turkey” is an autobiographical novel by Ozge Samanci, although 1819 News mistakenly states the author to be Michael Berry, who instead reviewed the book for the Sun-Sentinel. 1819 News wrote the book “contains cursing and shows police torturing and beating people for having right-winged ideas.”

In quotes from the 1819 News article and in an interview with APR, Wilkes emphasized the profanity and sexual content of the books.

“I think there is an appropriate set of materials we need,” Wilkes told APR. “If kids were to talk about those things in the classroom, there would be consequences and correction. Why have two sets of standards?”

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When asked about how the school should handle LGBTQ content in books, Wilkes said “ideologies that our students are being subjected to is something that we have got to look closely at.”

“Woke ideology is going to have difficulty being on our shelves,” Wilkes said

Jacob Holmes is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected]

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